Deforestation causes different subregional effects on the Amazon bioclimatic equilibrium

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Abstract

[1] Deforestation on Amazonia and central Brazil Cerrado could change regional climate, possibly shifting forest equilibrium into a bioclimatic envelope typical of savannas. Although impacts of climate change induced by deforestation are likely to vary subregionally, the potential geographic variation of these effects and the thresholds of rainforest and Cerrado removal that will affect Amazonian bioclimatic equilibrium remain unknown. We evaluate the effects of deforestation scenarios of increasing severity on the bioclimatic equilibrium of Amazon subregions. Results indicate that subregional precipitation responds in three distinct ways to progressive deforestation: a near-constant rate of reduction, a rapid drop for low deforestation levels, and a decrease after intermediate deforestation levels. Additionally, while inner forest regions remain inside rainforest bioclimatic envelope, outer forest regions may cross forest-savanna bioclimatic threshold even at low deforestation levels. We argue that at least 90% of Amazonia and 40% of Cerrado should be sustained to avoid subregional bioclimatic savannization.

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